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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Plea for reforms to halt unlawful searches

It is a simple concept: We are all New Yorkers and, as such, we all deserve to be equally respected by authorities.

It is a simple concept, yet those who are supposed to protect and serve every city resident have had a very tough time grasping it.

The increasing number of New Yorkers who oppose stop-and-frisk and its obstinate defense by Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is the most blatant example of this disconnect.

As every city resident knows, stop-and-frisk is a New York Police Department tactic that, for all practical purposes, criminalizes black and Latino youth for no other reason than their color, their accent or their place of residence.

Stop-and-frisk makes youth of color feel like we are criminals and not welcome in our own city, said Alfredo Carrasquillo of the Brooklyn-based VOCAL-NY, a group active in opposing the street interrogations.

During the Bloomberg administration, the NYPD has stopped more than 4 million people, 85% of them black or Latino, and nearly 90% of those stops failed to result in a summons or arrest.

The city stop-and-frisk practice fails to make us safer, but does succeed in the daily humiliation of law-abiding New Yorkers, most of them young people of color, said Hector Figueroa, the president of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. We must stop this destructive, discriminatory practice now.

A majority of city voters 53% agree with Figueroa, according to a poll released last week by the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.

It was among Hispanics that stop-and-frisk rejection grew the most. Fed up with what they believe to be unwarranted police harassment, the number of Latino voters who oppose the practice rose from 45% in August to 64% in November.

No one should be abused and harassed by the police simply because they are Latino or because of where they live, said Javier H. Valdes, co-executive director of Make the Road New York.

The rejection of this abusive police tactic really started to grow in October, following a hearing on the Community Safety Act, a legislative package of police reforms pending in the City Council.

There were also public hearings on stop-and-frisk practices in Brooklyn and Queens, later in the month.

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